MIDWAY : Wise up to knowledge

Biswas Baral

Knowledge! One of the hardest words to define. If I sit down to cud over the spheres of knowledge, chances are I will bowl myself over just naming all its fields. It is said to bring power. But how much knowledge is enough? And when can someone be called knowledgeable? Even the methods of gaining knowledge are debatable. Having to choose the proper means of acquiring knowledge isn’t a cinch. Of course, I can read good books, listen to the learned, keep abreast of all the latest news, and follow many more erudite concourses. But then, the good old Nepali maxim crosses my mind: Ki padhera janincha, ki parera. It is my belief that you learn more from experiences than through erudition. I say so because I do not read books to acquire knowledge, nor do I think anyone should. Books present opinions, and so do our teachers and other scholarly works. Experiences provide first hand insights: those, impossible to acquire through perusing the greatest of tomes! Say, I put forward a theory that the earth is flat. My theory will hold no water, not because science or some book says otherwise, but because “it is otherwise” and because I experience the daily natural phenomena of night and day, firsthand. I put my bookish facts to test. I gain knowledge through my ‘original’ experiments with the supposed truths! But again, there is no absolute truth. The earth is not perfectly round, after all. And as we keep discovering new things, shouldn’t we put to test the novel ideas, by using a bit more of our heads, rather than blindly rely on pedantic preaching contrivances?

Reading can be fun, and so can writing be. But I also think it is necessary to draw a line between acquiring knowledge through scanning and scribbling. We should always aspire to gain new insights and strive for that realm of wonder where the mingling of the ideas take place: our minds the catalysts, our experience the instigators! Anything under the sun makes me curious. I want to know everything there is to know about. I initially took to reading a lot of books. But no matter how many books I read, there was always more! Reading is still one of my past times. But I only read what I like these days. Gone are the days when I read solely to acquire knowledge because I now know that knowing everything is impossible. I have begun to appreciate every person’s capacity to educate — peasants toiling away in the fields can be as rewarding as grasping Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Agree? If not, Bhanubhakta’s ghasi would vouch for it.